Cobalt and lithium get all the love amid growing demand from the electric car industry — but copper is likely to enjoy even bigger benefits.

Within ten years total copper consumption in all types of electric vehicles could account for 5 per cent of the global market.

Morgan Stanley expects electric cars to gobble up 1.1 million tonnes of copper by 2025. That’s expected to grow to 1.7 million tonnes by 2027 according to the International Copper Association (ICA).

Today electric cars account for only about 185,000 tonnes. The global market for copper is now about 23.9 million tonnes, the  International Copper Study Group says. Demand is expected to rise to 28 million tonnes by early next decade.

Electric or hybrid cars and buses are expected to reach 27 million by 2027, up from 3 million last year, according to the ICA.

That’s already helping drive increased prices in copper stocks — especially ASX small caps.

King River Copper (ASX:JRC) – profiled this week by Stockhead columnist Tim Treadgold – has enjoyed a massive share price spike of 1160 per cent over the past 12 months.

Riedel Resources (ASX:RIE) is up 485 per cent for the past year. Alderan Resources (ASX: AL8) has gained 447 per cent since listing in June.

See our table below showing how 85 ASX-listed copper stocks have performed in the past year.

A typical electric car needs almost four times the amount of copper (75kg for a plug-in) compared to an average combustion engine vehicle, Morgan Stanley estimates.

The electric car battery accounts for about 40kg of that copper while the remainder is in the electric motor and vehicle wiring.

Then there’s the charging infrastructure. Fast chargers require up to 8kg of copper per unit — and that in turn will need additional grid infrastructure, “multiplying the impact on copper demand”, according to Morgan’s On the Charge report released last year.

“If you go to any of these Tesla charging stations and you pick up the cable from the wall that plugs into the vehicle and you just feel the weight of that cable, it’s all copper inside there,” says Walter Richards, CEO of copper and gold explorer Havilah Resources (ASX:HAV).

Down the track, electric cars are expected to integrate roof-mounted solar panels which would also require copper.

Best performing copper stocks

Stockhead’s review of the performance of 85 ASX copper stocks over the past year suggests miners that dabble in more than one battery metal are seeing the greatest investor interest.

That’s not surprising, because 98 per cent of the world’s cobalt is the by-product of nickel and copper production.

Among the top gainers (see table below) in the past year is Riedel Resources (ASX:RIE), which is earning into a cobalt and copper project in Spain.

The company, which has a market cap of $27.2 million, has seen its share price jump 485 per cent to 7.2c.

Taruga Gold (ASX:TAR) has witnessed a 366 per cent increase in its share price.

The company recently announced it had inked an option agreement to acquire a cobalt and copper project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Havilah, meanwhile, only recently started looking at the cobalt within its landholdings, and its share price over the past year has slipped over 61 per cent.

Benefits of copper

Havilah this week released a new cobalt resource for its Kalkaroo copper, cobalt and gold project in South Australia.

But while the company is making cobalt a focus, Mr Richards says Kalkaroo is already economic with just the copper and gold.

“Our projects are not dependent on cobalt working or nickel working, our projects are actually profitable, economic projects based on copper that has got a very positive outlook,” he told Stockhead.

“I think a lot of people are just purely caught on the cobalt hype and they’re not really looking at all the underlying fundamentals that will support those projects being successful.”

Here’s a table showing how 80+ ASX copper stocks have fared over the past year. Search or scroll to reveal more.

ASX Code Name 12-month share price change Price Mar 8, 2018 Price Mar 6, 2017 Market Cap
RIO RIO TINTO 0.220183486239 75.81 62.13 119795236864
BHP BHP BILLITON 0.119223300971 28.82 25.75 149516255232
OZL OZ MINERALS 0.0804469273743 9.67 8.95 2911981312
SFR SANDFIRE RESOURCES 0.252782193959 7.88 6.29 1218022144
IGO INDEPENDENCE GROUP 0.353887399464 5.05 3.73 2939985664
AL8 ALDERAN RESOURCES (listed Jun 9, 2017) 4.475 1.095 0.2 118220480
MLX METALS X 0.0419161676647 0.87 0.835 519849312
PEX PEEL MINING 3.25714285714 0.745 0.175 137951984
TNO TANDO RESOURCES (listed Nov 3, 2017) 0.85 0.37 0.2 11895215
KGL KGL RESOURCES 0.290560471976 0.35 0.2712 85060672
RVR RED RIVER RESOURCES 0.254901960784 0.32 0.255 154328576
MZM MONTEZUMA MINING 0.8 0.315 0.175 25039304
SVY STAVELY MINERALS 1.42307692308 0.315 0.13 48384224
NZC NZURI COPPER 0.0535714285714 0.295 0.28 79705408
HAV HAVILAH RESOURCES -0.616971125516 0.26 0.6788 62200980
XAM XANADU MINES 0.133333333333 0.255 0.225 144228384
CSE COPPER STRIKE 0.136363636364 0.25 0.22 26711202
CDU CUDECO -0.350649350649 0.25 0.385 86741200
FND FINDERS RESOURCES 0.3 0.2275 0.175 178598960
TLM TALISMAN MINING -0.464285714286 0.225 0.42 41782472
ODM ODIN METALS 2.68421052632 0.21 0.057 31512464
SGQ ST GEORGE MINING 0.518518518519 0.205 0.135 51360152
TAR TARUGA GOLD 3.65909090909 0.205 0.044 26982052
GWR GWR GROUP 2.41666666667 0.205 0.06 50498880
BOC BOUGAINVILLE COPPER 0.142857142857 0.2 0.175 80212496
RXM REX MINERALS 1.72058823529 0.185 0.068 38590964
BOA BOADICEA RESOURCES 0 0.18 0.18 8569693
BBX BBX MINERALS 1.77777777778 0.175 0.063 77541648
AIV ACTIVEX 0.724137931034 0.15 0.087 28356544
BYH BRYAH RESOURCES (listed Oct 17, 2017) -0.25 0.15 0.2 6762014.5
RTG RTG MINING -0.391304347826 0.14 0.23 23461980
AOH ALTONA MINING -0.103448275862 0.13 0.145 67121952
AVQ AXIOM MINING -0.21875 0.125 0.16 50975836
BUX BUXTON RESOURCES -0.528301886792 0.125 0.265 14410607
RDM RED METAL -0.107142857143 0.125 0.14 27336844
SVM SOVEREIGN METALS 0.352941176471 0.115 0.085 33215528
NML NAVARRE MINERALS 0.916666666667 0.092 0.048 24566054
WKT WALKABOUT RESOURCES -0.152380952381 0.089 0.105 23620636
HGO HILLGROVE RESOURCES 0.113924050633 0.088 0.079 50065764
HIG HIGHLANDS PACIFIC 0.128571428571 0.079 0.07 75066064
MGV MUSGRAVE MINERALS 0.128571428571 0.079 0.07 22319956
FEL FE 1.51612903226 0.078 0.031 28709106
AVB AVANCO RESOURCES -0.407692307692 0.077 0.13 194095616
TAS TASMAN RESOURCES -0.65 0.077 0.22 26818498
BPL BROKEN HILL PROSPECTING 0.450980392157 0.074 0.051 10935232
RIE RIEDEL RESOURCES 4.85365853659 0.072 0.0123 27174530
MEP MINOTAUR EXPLORATION -0.102564102564 0.07 0.078 18179162
SUH SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE MINING 1.05882352941 0.07 0.034 5959529.5
VRX VENTNOR RESOURCES 3.37908496732 0.067 0.0153 16838432
CVV CARAVEL MINERALS -0.0647482014388 0.065 0.0695 7670769.5
KRC KING RIVER COPPER 11.6 0.063 0.005 67887776
AMG AUSMEX MINING GROUP -0.294117647059 0.06 0.085 24669156
MOD MOD RESOURCES -0.209677419355 0.049 0.062 91043984
RLC REEDY LAGOON 2.64341085271 0.047 0.0129 18706718
ORN ORION MINERALS 1.42105263158 0.046 0.019 59340172
SCI SILVER CITY MINERALS 0.551724137931 0.045 0.029 11052080
RCP REDBANK COPPER -0.266666666667 0.044 0.06 5029791.5
CRB CARBINE RESOURCES -0.695652173913 0.035 0.115 7190882
HCH HOT CHILI 0.296296296296 0.035 0.027 21471992
STM SUNSTONE METALS 0.789473684211 0.034 0.019 38817868
PNN PEPINNINI LITHIUM 0.890243902439 0.031 0.0164 16862998
AUQ ALARA RESOURCES 0.285714285714 0.027 0.021 15725440
LSR LODESTAR MINERALS 1.88888888889 0.026 0.009 16530497
ARD ARGENT MINERALS -0.333333333333 0.026 0.039 12029033
ARE ARGONAUT RESOURCES 1.4 0.024 0.01 29210076
SUM SUMATRA COPPER & GOLD -0.0416666666667 0.023 0.024 79720744
HNR HANNANS 0.727272727273 0.019 0.011 33594416
AZY ANTIPA MINERALS 0 0.019 0.019 21118486
AQD AUSQUEST 0.5 0.018 0.012 11036328
GTE GREAT WESTERN EXPLORATION -0.117647058824 0.015 0.017 12882790
FNT FRONTIER RESOURCES -0.642857142857 0.015 0.042 1564152.25
CZN CORAZON MINING -0.730769230769 0.014 0.052 15183400
IVR INVESTIGATOR RESOURCES -0.641025641026 0.014 0.039 11099580
COY COPPERMOLY -0.391304347826 0.014 0.023 16531938
PNX PNX METALS -0.452380952381 0.0115 0.021 13067160
KLH KALIA 0.666666666667 0.01 0.006 20343474
SRI SIPA RESOURCES -0.5 0.009 0.018 10966210
SMD SYNDICATED METALS -0.636363636364 0.008 0.022 5083939
TMX TERRAIN MINERALS -0.384615384615 0.008 0.013 4994665
ELT ELEMENTOS 0.25 0.008 0.0064 10270618
HDY HARDEY RESOURCES -0.861111111111 0.005 0.036 5096578
TGS TIGER RESOURCES (suspended) 0 0.049 0.049 100000000